Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today blasted the Obama Administration’s disastrous deal with Iran, saying it has provided the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars, including from U.S. taxpayers, that Tehran is using to expand its influence in the world, help Russia prop up Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and make the humanitarian crisis in Syria far worse.

“The point for the average American who is watching this issue, here’s the bottom line: you have the world’s supreme sponsor of terrorism who now has billions of dollars more than they once did as a result of this [Iran nuclear deal],” said Rubio. “And we’re somehow supposed to believe that the bulk of it is being spent to improve the way their economy functions and that somehow, because funds are fungible, that this is not being used to increase their other aims they have around the world.

“So, again, I think this is just another example of how this deal and everything that surrounds it has now provided more resources to the Iranian regime to continue to do what they did,” Rubio continued. “And one of the things they do with the money they’ve been given, is they are able to fund their intelligence gathering capabilities that allow them to help the Russians with their airstrikes. And those are the airstrikes that struck a convoy a week ago. Those are the airstrikes that are decimating Aleppo and creating a situation on the ground that we have not seen in decades anywhere in the world.”

Video of Rubio’s remarks can be watched here, and a downloadable broadcast quality version is available for TV stations here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s exchange with Deputy Secretary Of State Antony Blinken is below.


U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, D.C.
September 29, 2016
Watch on: YouTube | Facebook


Senator Rubio: Thank you Secretary Blinken for being here. In your statement, you mentioned Russia six times as you should. They are clearly involved. But there is an omission. I do not believe that in your testimony you mentioned Iran a single time. And, in fact, until Senator Cardin just raised it, I am not sure it’s even been discussed yet in terms of Iran’s role in this region. Earlier this month, you said you couldn’t guarantee to the American people that the funds that Iran has received as a result of the payments that were made and of the JCPOA have not been used for terrorism. I think it’s common sense that in fact they would do that. We have seen for example press reports that Iran’s Guardian Council instructed its central bank to transfer $1.7 billion to the military of Iran. And, by the way, I don’t think that number is a coincidence. So we’ve seen the top IRGC Commander last week say that the IRGC and its allies supply intelligence for Russian airstrikes in Syria. And so, I think the first thing we have to point to here is the fact that these pallets of taxpayer dollars that have been allowed to Iran have ultimately helped them help Russia target innocent Syrians in this quest to increase their dominance of the region or their role in the region and to prop up Assad. Again, I don’t how we justify the transfer of all of these funds to the Iranian regime, knowing that the Iranian regime is deeply involved in propping up the Assad regime, and in the process providing assistance to all these atrocities that are now being committed by both Assad and the Russians. How do we justify that?
 
Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken: Thank you, Senator. First, as you know, because you have been so focused on this for many years, Iran has been engaged in the support of terrorism and destabilizing activities, including in Syria, for a long time. During sanctions, in other words before the nuclear agreement, during the negotiation of the agreement, and indeed since sanctions have been lifted in the context of that agreement. So their conduct has been consistent throughout. And, again, they were doing this before when we had the sanctions regime in place because of their nuclear program. The one thing that has changed is we have taken a nuclear weapon off the table far into the future, which is profoundly good for our interests and the interests of our partners and allies. But, as we’ve said all along, we fully expected that they would continue to take these actions in various ways and various places after the agreement. And that’s why we have worked very hard to continue and indeed to increase our efforts to counter them. So we’ve worked very closely, as you know, with the Gulf partners, building up their capacity. We just signed a record-breaking MOU with Israel to make sure that they had in place, over the next decade, what they need for their security. And we continue to implement sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals-

Rubio: But even if we assume what you said is true that the money has been used to prop up their domestic economy, ultimately if that were case, that domestic economy would then produce more revenue that they could use to fulfill the funding needs of their priorities, which is terrorism and the propping up of Assad. I guess the point for the average American who is watching this issue, here’s the bottom line: you have the world’s supreme sponsor of terrorism who now has billions of dollars more than they once did as a result of this. And we’re somehow supposed to believe that the bulk of it is being spent to improve the way their economy functions and that somehow, because funds are fungible, that this is not being used to increase their other aims they have around the world. And that includes the propping up of this extraordinarily vicious regime of Assad and their enablers in Russia. So, again, I think this is just another example of how this deal and everything that surrounds it has now provided more resources to the Iranian regime to continue to do what they did. And one of the things they do with the money they’ve been given, is they are able to fund their intelligence gathering capabilities that allow them to help the Russians with their airstrikes. And those are the airstrikes that struck a convoy a week ago. Those are the airstrikes that are decimating Aleppo and creating a situation on the ground that we have not seen in decades anywhere in the world.